Is Amazon Less Trusted Than Your Grocery Store?


A survey done by the marketing company Placecast and Harris Interactive has shown the remarkable statistic that many adults trust their local grocery store with their personal information more than they trust major Internet websites like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

The users of the survey are aware that their grocery store gathers personal information in order to target them accurately with advertising and coupons. In fact, every company on the list does so to some degree. This is a common practice for companies looking to target their customers directly.

The Companies Involved

The survey targeted both specific companies and generalizations about certain common types of company. Respondents were asked if they trust each company or type of company with their personal information, knowing that it was being used with their permission to target ads for them. These are the companies involved:

  •     A Local Grocery Store
  •     Merchants Using Phone Information
  •     Credit Card Companies
  •     Cell Phone Service Providers

The idea is that each of these companies already gathers information, with permission, in order to target ads for their customers. The survey charted the results of people who say they trust each of these companies with their information. The results are interesting.

Who is Most Trustworthy?

A whopping 81% of people say they trust their local grocery store with their information. The information would be used to gather shopping habits and make sure items are in stock, as well as target users with specials and coupons that are relevant to them.

Second on the list is Amazon has worked hard to build a reputation as a trustworthy website for shopping online. The idea that they gather information so they can present deals in e-mails to their customers is exactly the same as what the local grocery stores are doing. The only difference is in how large Amazon is and how they operate entirely online. A total of 66% of adults rated Amazon as a trustworthy site, which speaks volumes about how well they’ve held themselves as a company.

Only 41% of respondents say they trust Google to provide them with personalized ads based on their information. Google has a widespread reputation for their motto “Don’t be evil,” but they have also made some off-putting decisions in the past. The sheer volume of information that Google is able to collect is frightening.

Who Is Least Trusted?

Merchants using phone information to harvest data and provide advertisements and deals were only trusted 38% of the time. To split it up among age demographics, over half of adults in the 18-25 range trust phone-delivered deals, while adults 55 years or older only trusted these deals 27% of the time.

Credit card companies scored even worse, with 36% of people trusting them with offers. How much of this is related to the financial crisis, how much ties in to the belief that credit card offers are frauds and how much of it is natural caution is unknown.

Cell phone service providers are trusted even less with personal information. While a cellular company has a relatively small range of data they can harvest compared to Google or Amazon, location information is powerful. Only 35% of respondents trusted their cell phone companies with this information, even when they knowingly gave permission for it to be gathered.

Facebook Fares Worst of All

It’s not a surprise to find that only 33% of adults trust Facebook with their information. The social network giant has a massive amount of information at its fingertips, including pictures, contact information, phone numbers, addresses and more. Through apps, anything from current geographical location to activities to games can be monitored.

The problem likely stems from Facebook’s reputation for making bad decisions. Their recent IPO and ever-falling stock price attests to the lack of trust in them as a company. Many people complain whenever they change their format. Facebook has also been caught multiple times with changing personal settings to benefit themselves. The most recent instance is changing a user’s contact e-mail to a Facebook e-mail most people aren’t even aware of.

While it’s not a surprise that Facebook is the least trusted with personal information, how much better is a local grocery store? Just because it’s been around for years doesn’t necessarily mean it’s trustworthy. Think about it next time you’re out grocery shopping.


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